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     At the time of European discovery, the territory of modern-day Brazil had as many  as 2,000 nations and tribes. The estimated population of Brazil at the time of the arrival of the Portuguese in 1500 was roughly 3,000,000 Amerindians. These native tribes are thought to have come during the first wave of migrants from North Asia, crossing the Bering Land Bridge at the end of the last Ice Age.

After 1530, the Portuguese Crown devised the Hereditary Captaincies system to occupy Brazil. With permanent settlement came the establishment of the sugar cane industry and its intensive labor. Early settlements were founded primarily on the coast, adopting an economy based on the production of agricultural goods to be exported to Europe. By the 18th century, gold and diamond deposits were found in the state of Minas Gerais.

In 1808, the Portuguese Court, fleeing from Napoleon's troops, established themselves in Rio de Janeiro, becoming the seat of government outside Portugal until 1821. Following a series of political upheavals, Brazil achieved its independence from Portugal in 1822. On October 12, 1822, Dom Pedro became the first Emperor of Brazil.

Political pressures forced the Emperor to step down on April 7, 1831. He returned to Portugal and left behind his son, Pedro II. From 1830-1840, before Pedro II reached maturity, Brazil was governed by regents. The regency period is characterized by numerous revolts, including the Male Revolt in Bahia in 1835.

In July 1940, Pedro II was crowned Emperor. During Pedro's rule, Brazil saw increased coffee exports, the War of Triple Alliance, and the end of the slave trade from Africa. Slavery, itself, was not abolished until 1888.

Pedro II was deposed on November 15, 1889 by a Republican military coup. From 1889 to 1930, the dominant states of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais alternated control of the presidency. A military junta took control in 1930. Getulio Vargas took office soon after, and would remain as intermittent dictatorial ruler until 1945. Military forces again took power in a coup d'etat in 1964, and remained in power until 1985. Tancredo Neves was elected president in an indirect election in 1985. He died before taking office, and the vice-president, Jose Sarney, was sworn in as president.

In 1988 the current Federal Constitution was enacted and democracy was re-established. Fernando Collor de Mello was the first president truly elected by popular vote after the military regime. In September 1992, the National Congress voted for Collor's impeachment after scandals were uncovered. From here, Itamar Franco assumed the presidency. In 1994, Fernando Henrique Cardoso ran for president and won, being reelected in 1998. Brazil's current president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, was elected in 2002 and reelected in 2006.





Updated: 18 March 2008